How to make your own compost

It's about putting back what you take out
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One way to reduce household waste is to create your own compost. It is something that many of us have heard of, but not all of us know how to go about doing it.

Melissa Smrecnik, the co-ordinator for the Jane Street Community Garden in Brisbane offers some advice. She said the best things to use in the compost were fruit and vegetable scraps, but includes other things like coffee grains and egg shells. “Any raw organic matter,” Melissa said. She also suggested not to use cooked food, including meat, because it could rot, bread, because it attracted vermin, and animal faeces because it could carry pathogens that can cause disease.

To create compost you need a nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from items that still have their colour, such as green lettuce leaves. A carbon source is anything that is brown, like browned leaves, newspapers and cardboard. “You make a lasagne out of these two layers.”

Because it is a living system, Melissa said it needs water, air and a food source. “The bigger the compost the better.” She suggests using sealable tubs, to deter rodents, as long as it is on the ground. There are many different varieties available in gardening stores perfect for the job. She also suggests having two on rotation, so you can close one off for 2-3 months once it is full (six months is even better) while you fill the other one. Once the second one is full the first one will be ready and should look like beautiful broken down dirt. Then you can mix it into your soil. Don’t forget your pot plants!

Problem solving

  • Compost is smelly: It has too much nitrogen and water, not enough air.
  • Compost has ants: It is too dry. Add more water.
  • Compost not breaking down: Add more food scraps.

Jane Street community gardens has now become a community composting hub, with support of Brisbane City Council. Kitchen scraps can be donated, and will be used in the garden. Items grown in the garden go back to the local community. Check your own local council for something like this in your area. 

Would you try composting in your garden?

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